|Blue Ridge Waves|
I started my day at a little after 4am and checked the weather. There was no fog until about 11am, so that was even better! I was excited to work with the fog and what was left of the color up there. In about an hour, I was on the road headed West. There was plenty of clouds in the sky here at home, and I had no doubt that there would be clouds in the mountains as well. As I was climbing up the ascent after Wilkesboro, I started to wonder where the fog was. I was passing through some patches, but nothing substantial at all. By the time I hit the Parkway, visibility was perfectly clear and I could actually see stars. That was a twist I wasn't expecting.
The first overlook I drove past I pulled into to see what things were looking like. There was a sea of clouds below which was a nice surprise. The sky was starting to show some color, so I decided to head over to the Grand View overlook to see what that looked like. When I arrived, there were already two cars there, and I made it three. I got out of the 4Runner and nearly froze since I was wearing shorts and it was in the mid 50's. But the scene was unfolding quite nicely so I pulled the camera out and fitted my 24-70mm lens so I could capture the entire scene. I went ahead and added the Lee Filter holder and a 3-Stop Hard edge ND Grad filter to control the sky. I found a spot that gave me the most clear view and got the composition set up. The exposures were around 30 seconds at f/8 since it was still quite dark. But I knew that a long exposure in the dark would yield some pretty terrific colors if I was reading the sky right.
As the camera was soaking in the scene, I noticed that there was another photographer with a tripod set up, but no camera. He was sitting in the car waiting on different light. The camera finished the exposure and I saw the LCD. Right then, I knew that he was missing out. With the lack of clouds above, there would not be much other color as the sun continued to rise, and the low clouds would eventually be overexposed in the sunlight. Oh well, I was capturing the images that I was wanting and that was what mattered.
There was very little color to see due to the fog and the lighting so each and every frame that I shot looked like a monochrome image in the LCD review. That was fine by me since I was shooting them to be black and white. The contrast and textures were more important to me at this point than the colors. When I got home and started to convert them, the photographs stayed true to how I actually saw them. That is...except for one of them.
|Fall Into the Clouds|
Doing these shots kind of set the tone for the rest of the day as the sky never really got interesting. The real story of the landscape was the low clouds and fog present at many of the locations. With the sky losing my interest, and having shot most of the compositions that jumped out at me, I decided to move on down the road to see what I could find before the sun got too high up in the sky. I loaded up the camera as several other folks were starting to take their pictures. My next stop would be the back side of Thunder Hill.
I went ahead and put the 70-200mm lens back on and added the polarizer to it. I wanted to be able to get all the contrast that I could as well as any saturation that was available. I started to pick out the interesting sections of the frame with a bit more reach than I had been able to have with my other lens.
|A Foggy Caress|
|Pines in the Fog|
It was at that point that I decided it was time to pack it in and head back to the truck. Right before I started to take the filter off, I happened to catch a tree well over to the right of the field that had escaped my attention...until now. This was a golden tree set all along with a very interesting trunk structure. It was worth a few frames at least. it was in the shadows, but the fog was rolling past it so there was plenty of visual interest to it.
|The Golden Fog|
As I was looking at it in detail, the trunk that caught my eye actually provided a compositional plus for me. While I had pretty much centered the tree, the trunk was pleasantly off center to the left providing some much needed visual tension to the piece. Yeah, this one turned out very nice indeed.
The sun was still rising behind me, and things were losing their magic in the valley. It was time to pack the camera up and head to the next destination. The idea was to go to Rough Ridge as I was hoping that the leaves were still vibrant there. As I got closer, I was starting to see that the trees were mostly bare, and the leaves that were left were mostly brown. I wasn't feeling very lucky at all at this point, and by the time I got to Price Lake, I decided to turn around. My plan was now to go to Doughton Park at a lower altitude to see what I could see.
|The Vibrant Drive|
|Dabs of Color|
After I played with this scene for a bit, I realized that the sun was becoming too harsh, and it was getting close to the middle of the day. It was time to call it quits and head home. I hadn't been to Doughton, but I can't imagine that the quality of light would be favorable there because it was diminishing quickly everywhere I looked. I decided to try a different route home and do some exploring so I asked the GPS to pick my route. It took me down Hwy 18 to Wilkesboro.
As I was going down the mountain, I found myself driving through the clouds and eventually ended up under them. Now the quality of light was much better than it had been. I started to look for other subjects to photograph before heading home. Unfortunately though, I did need to get home, so I didn't do much exploring, just kept working my way East on some of the state roads instead of hopping on 421. I saw a bunch of things that had promise, but just didn't jump out at me. I will be back to this area when my mind is set on doing barns this winter.
The problem with that Pontiac is that it sits in the shadows when the sun is out and the exposure on it is terrible to say the least. I have tried it several times with varying degrees of sunlight, but never under a totally cloudy sky before. This sky might actually prove very helpful for the car. I decided to slide by and give it a shot.
The house that the car is parked next to has been vacant for some time, and there is a working farm to the side. Because of that, I am very careful not to disturb anything when I am shooting this car. There is nobody to ask permission of to shoot it, but the property is still used. Fortunately, the way to the car is easy enough. When I got there, I went straight for my 24-70mm lens which I knew was the best option for this car. I had a clothesline that was very close to it which always causes me problems, and forces me to get in close to the car.
|A Rusty Streak|
At this point, I had shot 140 frames in about 6 hours. I was getting tired and I needed to get home. Honestly, I was thinking that I had about five to seven images that I would find worthy of keeping. I wasn't all that confident in what I had captured. However, when I started the culling process, I quickly learned that I had done much better than I had originally thought. My experimenting worked wonders on this Trek, and that fact really came to light when Toni was looking at my 14 favorites. She was looking at Dabs of Color and said that it looked like my standard landscape and it would get lost in the mix. The insinuation was that the other ones were noticeably different from my normal shot and stood out from the crowd. I can live with that as a compliment.